Lower South

May, 2013
Regional Report

Favorite or New Plant

Esperanza (Tecoma stans), also known as yellow bells, is a spectacular heat-tolerant perennial with striking masses of golden yellow, trumpet-shaped flowers. It blooms profusely through the hottest southern summers through the first fall frost, and is highly resistant to pests and diseases. The new variety 'Gold Star' begins blooming earlier than the standard, southwestern native type and has a denser growth habit.

'Gold Star' esperanza is well suited for large containers to accent entry and patio. It also is stunning in a mass planting along a fence or near the back of a perennial border. Provide it full sun to part shade and a little moisture to help get it established. Once established it can tolerate periodic dry conditions. A dependable perennial in the coastal south, esperanza will usually return each spring if mulched well. In the northern parts of zone 8 and above it may not survive the winter and should be considered an annual. To keep the plant in a mass of flowers all summer long, trim off the clusters of seed pods that follow each flush of blooms.

Clever Gardening Technique

Start Your Own Sweet Potato Slips
You can grow your own sweet potato slips by laying a sweet potato in a bed of sandy soil, covering it about an inch or two deep, and keeping it moist. Soon shoots will begin to grow from the buried sweet potato. When these shoots, known as "slips", have reached about 6 to 8 inches in length break them off where they attach to the potato or cut them off at the soil line. Keep them moist and plant them out into the garden. As an alternative you can pot them up to get them started while you prepare their garden spot.

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